Limiting senior citizens’ movement is valid exercise of police power, says Roque

Malacañang is optimistic that the petition asking the Supreme Court to stop enforcement of the stay-at-home rule for senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic will not prosper.

In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, an elderly woman wearing a face shield boards a bus in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the State has invoked its "police power" to protect public health, especially since seniors are vulnerable to the new coronavirus disease.

"Itong kaso po bagamat hindi natin pinangungunahan ang Supreme Court, tingin ko walang mangyayari diyan dahil isa sa acknowledged powers of the state is police power at ang basehan ng pag-exericse ng police power ay yung pangalagaan mismo ang kalusugan ng mga seniors (Although we don't want to preempt the Supreme Court, nothing will happen to the case because police power one of the acknowledged powers of the State. The basis for exercising police power is the protection of the health of the senior citizens)," he said during a televised press briefing Tuesday.

Roque explained that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) has restricted the movement of senior citizens outside of their residence except for essential work and other activities mainly to protect them from the illness. He said it has already been proven that older adults often become infected with the illness.

"Naninindigan ang IATF na ang prohibition sa mga galaw ng seniors is borne by science and medicine. Sa buong daigdig, ang mga tinatamaan at namamatay sa COVID-19 ay mga seniors at meron comorbidities and that's scientific fact (The IATF believes that the prohibition of the movement of seniors is borne by science and medicine. Across the world, seniors and those with comorbidities are usually the ones who are infected and eventually die from COVID-19 and that's a scientific fact)," he said.

"To the petitioners, itong pagbabawal ng inyong movement outside your residence except for work and to procure necessities is for your own benefit. It is to protect your lives amid the proven fact na ang mga namamatay sa COVID 19 karamihan ay senior citizens," he added.

Lawyer Eugenio Insigne recently filed a petition asking the high court to stop the IATF from imposing quarantine restrictions on senior citizens. The retired prosecutor sought the temporary restraining order after arguing that the restrictions supposedly violated the rights of seniors.

In all community quarantine levels, any person below 21-years-old and above 60-years-old, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women are required to remain in their residences at all times. Exempted from the stay-at-home rule are those “obtaining essential goods and services or working in permitted industries and offices.”